C.K. Burns School student Alice Browne won the Maine Bicentennial drawing contest for the fourth grade at the Saco school. Courtesy image

SACO — Prior to the school closures in mid-March, students at C.K. Burns School in Saco participated in a contest where they expressed what living in Maine meant to them. The essay and drawing contest was the school’s way of celebrating Maine’s 200th birthday.

But then social distancing and other restrictions were put in place throughout the state because of the coronavirus, schools closed their doors and students participated in distance learning. Celebrations for recognizing 200 years of Maine’s statehood were put on hold statewide, including festivities and recognition of contest winners at C.K. Burns.

Fourth-grade teacher Kathy Moody said the essay/drawing contest was conceived prior to the advent of COVID-19. “Our social studies teachers wanted to do something for our students and make them aware of Maine’s bicentennial. … We came up with this idea.”

The contest rules were distributed prior to February vacation so students would be able to work on their project when they had more free time. More than 100 entries were received for the contest, which was voluntary to participate in, Moody said.

Fifth-grade student Khloe Parise won the C.K. Burns School Maine Bicentennial drawing contest for her grade. Courtesy image

“We had some fantastic work turned into us,” she said. “The kids put fantastic work into it.”

“The goal (of the contest) was for the kids to share what Maine meant to them,” Moody said.

“I like Maine because there is no toxic gas, there is fresh air,” wrote Mikaela Ayala, who wrote the winning essay for the fifth grade. “Maine has fresh water,” she wrote, adding “Maine is one of the safest states.”

“You might not be a fan of Maine but I am!” wrote fourth-grade essay winner Malia Collins. “I love Maine because you can ski some of the tallest mountains in New England. Another reason I love Maine is because we have four seasons. Lastly, I love Maine because we are the first to see the sunrise out of New England.”

Third-grade essay winner Taylor Marston, listed six reasons why she loved her home state. “This first reason I love Maine is there is an ocean,” she wrote. “The second reason I love Maine is there is lots of lobster,” she added. Other reasons she she said loved Maine were for its four seasons, first sunrise, blueberries and lack of natural disasters. “These are all the reasons I love living in Maine,” she wrote.

Drawing contest winners were: grade three, Sofiya Marjanovic, grade four, Alice Browne and grade five, Khloe Parise.

“All the students showed amazing creativity in their submissions and should be proud of their entries,” State Sen. Justin Chenette, one of the judges of the contest, wrote in an email. “Maine’s bicentennial is a great opportunity to educate the next generation about Maine’s dynamic history. One thing I looked for was showcasing a variety of what makes Maine a wonderful place to live particularly our natural resources-based economy. I particularly liked connections made to our local community.”

Sofiya Marjanovic was the third-grade winner of the C.K. Burns School Maine Bicentennial drawing contest. Courtesy image

Moody said prior to distance learning, the school was going to go all out to celebrate Maine’s bicentennial. Staff were going to decorate the school, hold an assembly where students would perform the state song, and the contest winners’ work would be framed and displayed at city hall.

Like the state’s celebration which has been postponed until 2021 — Maine Statehood Day celebration has been postponed to March 14 to take place in Augusta, with a state parade to take place in Lewiston and Auburn on May 15, and more festivities later in the year, according to Secretary of State Communications Director Kristen Schulze Muszynski — festivities for the K-grade eight schools and the city have been put on hold and will hopefully proceed next year, Moody said. She said thinks there will still be a school assembly, school decorations and maybe even a parade. And, she said, there are plans to recognize the essay winners and “be able to display (the work) somewhere where people can see it.”

Mikaela Ayala was the fifth-grade winner of the C.K. Burns Maine Bicentennial essay contest. Courtesy image


Malia Collins was the fourth-grade winner of the C.K. Burns Maine Bicentennial essay contest. Courtesy image

Taylor Marston was the third-grade winner of the C.K. Burns School Maine Bicentennial essay contest. Courtey image

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